Tuesday 30 June 2020, 11:46

Chiampas: We need to continue playing football in a responsible way

  • George Chiampas has been Chief Medical Officer of the USMNT team since 2015

  • Also works with the Chicago Blackhawks NHL team and at the Chicago Marathon

  • In a podcast, he gives an interesting insight into his working methods and mindset

COVID-19 continues to pose very specific challenges for both the international community and the sporting world. U.S. Soccer has now published guidelines for continuing to play football in a responsible way with the help of George Chiampas, Chief Medical Officer of the USA men’s national team since 2015.

For our podcast, Chiampas sat down with Andrew Massey, Director of FIFA’s Medical Department, to discuss both these guidelines and the wide-ranging interests of the American doctor who, in addition to his role within football, also works for Northwestern University, the medical team of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks and as the medical director of the Chicago Marathon.

"I’m juggling a lot of different balls from marathon to soccer. I love all aspects of them and the opportunity to work with FIFA at a high level across the globe. Soccer is such a beautiful game," said Chiampas. "I know everyone says that, but as a kid growing up watching American football and other sports, I’ve gravitated towards soccer 100 per cent because of the global side – the different languages, the different cultures. You can find anyone and speak about the game."

Can you explain to us the guidelines that have been published about COVID-19 and football?

George Chiampas: We have so many players across the United States. We’re really trying to guide our parents, clubs, coaches, kids and referees about how to proceed and play soccer during COVID. It’s a phased approach. It tries to implement best practices and mitigate the risk of COVID in our population as much as possible. We highlight fun, activity, playing the game, loving the game – but doing it in a responsible way.

What can you tell us about the sports medicine sector in the USA?

One of the challenges in the United States that I think is different from Europe is teams really embracing their physician, and that physician really being a part of the team 100 per cent of the time. I’ve really been fortunate at US Soccer because I’ve inserted myself in that fashion. I think it’s the most important thing, to be honest with you.

Your connection to ice hockey is fascinating. How well do you have to know a sport in order to be a team doctor?

I actually think ice hockey and soccer are so similar. One, the personalities are similar: it’s a sport where you have players from all over the world coming together to play the game. It’s very similar from a physiological perspective as well: there are lots of starts, stops and quick movements. I’ve been involved with the Chicago Blackhawks for about seven or eight years now and I didn’t know the details of the game as much as you would think – I still don’t. It’s a game with a lot of injuries, some really significant. It can go from 0 to 100 in a second.

Want to listen to the entire podcast?

This text is part of an occasional series of podcasts from FIFA’s Medical Department.

Read more: McNally: We’ve had to be creative to keep our players ready